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Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. There she died on 18 July 1817.
As a girl Jane Austen wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were only published after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1818 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her authorship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815-16. She also left two earlier compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives.
Fellow novelist Katharine McMahon on Jane Austen...
I can't not choose her. And whichever I've read last is always my favourite. The nuance of emotion, the understanding of human nature revealed by Austen constantly delights me. When I reread Sense and Sensibility recently, for the first time Elinor came across as quite prissy and destined to marry a rather spineless husband. I wonder if that was intended?
While Pride and Prejudice may sit at the top of many people’s favourite Jane Austen books, Emma has to be a contender for the title too. For me Emma has a little more bite, it isn’t quite as comfortable a read as Pride and Prejudice, and that makes it more interesting. In terms of lead characters Emma is right up there, she may be headstrong, snobbish, convinced she knows best, yet because of those characteristics, because she isn't perfect, she also feels so very real. Emma is a bright, beautifully written novel with real heart and I love it. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
Full to the brim with ready wit and arch social commentary, this amusing and intelligent book is as relevant today as it was when published nearly 200 years ago. If you haven't previously read any of Austen’s works, this is the perfect place to start, it’s one of her lesser known but more stimulating and provocative novels. Quite literally a book of two halves, we have a story of a young woman learning the difference between reality and fantasy and then a consummate commentary from the author on the literary world at the time. Austen introduces an almost anti-heroine, a kind, caring but not particularly captivating Catherine, then surrounds her with four fascinatingly different characters who range from compassionate, intelligent and gracious to self obsessed, mercenary and petulant. As well as the engaging story, you also discover an author who appears to be somewhat on the warpath. She actually talks to you from the page, her views are so clear, you could be having a face-to-face discussion with her. If you already know Northanger Abbey, reacquaint yourself with this fascinating novel. This actual edition is charming, a perfect size for the hand bag and one to treasure. It also has an interesting Introduction by Val McDermid who has just recently, with approval from the Austen Society, published a terrifically good reimagining in a contemporary setting of Northanger Abbey.
'No sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes...' The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
May 2014 Guest Editor Daisy Goodwin on Persuasion... I love Jane Austen with a deep and enduring passion, and I think the story of Anne Elliott’s second chance is possibly my favourite. The way that she revives as a character like a flower soaking up water is quite miraculous. It is also has a plot of clockwork perfection. I read this book at least once a year and I always find something new to marvel at. The Lovereading view... Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities. In her introduction, Gillian Beer discusses Austen's portrayal of the double-edged nature of persuasion and the clash between old and new worlds. This edition also includes a new chronology and full textual notes. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
One of Rebecca Front's favourite books. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen's first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.
Even if you have seen the numerous films and TV adaptations there is nothing quite as good as reading the original book about the Dashwood sisters and the complications and misunderstandings that take place in their love lives. A true classic, a clever, wonderful, romantic read. This edition is published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of its first publication. April 2010 Guest Editor Katharine McMahon on Jane Austen... I can't not choose her. And whichever I've read last is always my favourite. The nuance of emotion, the understanding of human nature revealed by Austen constantly delights me. When I reread Sense and Sensibility recently, for the first time Elinor came across as quite prissy and destined to marry a rather spineless husband. I wonder if that was intended?
One of P. D. James' favourite books. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
The classic Austen tale brought to life by one of Britain’s best loved actresses, Juliet Stevenson. Charming. Abridged audiobook edition. 3 CDsRunning Time: 3h 45m
September 2009 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Penny Smith... This wasn’t a set text for us at school, but I read it anyway and it got me into the classics big time. I had such vivid pictures of all the characters and places. Sadly, every adaptation, including the fantastic one with Colin Firth, was never a patch on my image of what they all looked like and were like. Plus I just love a love story… GMTV presenter Penny Smith is passionate about books and is now a novelist herself; her latest fiction, After The Break, is published by Harper Perennial. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
This beautiful hardback edition is a special Puffin Classic created in partnership with the world-famous V & A Museum, and has a stunning cover design inspired by the iconic fashion featured in the book. Emma is clever, rich, beautiful and sees no need for marriage. An irrepressible matchmaker, she loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen's novel of youthful exuberance, with its imperfect but charming heroine, is often seen as her most flawless work.
Catherine Morland should know better. She's the very ideal of a nice, normal girl. But Catherine is cursed with an overactive imagination. She is also obsessed with lurid Gothic novels, where terrible things happen to the heroine. Which gets her into all sorts of trouble... When Catherine visits Bath and meets funny, sharp Henry Tilney, she's instantly taken with him. But when she is invited to the Tilneys' home, the sinister Northanger Abbey, fantasy starts to get in the way of reality. Will she learn to separate out the two?
'I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.' Romance, misunderstandings, finding Mr Right and finding out who's Mr Wrong - Pride and Prejudice is as relevant today as it has ever been. It's the enchanting and enduring story of Lizzy Bennet (one of literature's most engaging heroines), proud Mr Darcy, of true love, families, villains and heroes and of course, pride and prejudice.
When the gorgeous Henry Crawford and his pretty sister Mary come to Mansfield Park, they've no idea what a disturbance they will cause. There they find the Bertram family, with their beautiful daughters and handsome sons - and Fanny Price. Eighteen-year-old Fanny has grown up in the shadow of her glamorous relations. In fact, no one seems to remember she's there at all, which is why they don't notice that she's gradually been falling in love. But while she hides a secret passion, she has no idea she's become an object of interest herself for another admirer. As a scandal begins to unfold that will have devastating effects on everyone, Fanny discovers that love will blossom in the most unusual of places...
Eight years ago, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth fell head over heels in love. But Anne's snobbish family put a stop to their engagement, believing the young naval captain wasn't good enough for her. Pretty, intelligent Anne soon realises it was a terrible mistake, and spends her twenties in the shadow of her father and her selfish sisters. But she never forgets. Then Captain Wentworth - by now a successful, wealthy man, looking for a wife - walks back into her life. Can he forgive her? Does he still love her? And could they ever be happy, after all this time?
Until the appearance in 1870 of the Memoir written by her nephew J.E. Austen Leigh, very little was known about Jane Austen beyond what could be deduced from her major novels. This had been the family's choice. Despite this lack of information Deidre Le Faye records that following the acceptance of Jane's novel Susan for publication in 1803, according to family tradition, she had composed the plot of another full-length novel . This, Two Girls of Eighteen, never previously identified as Jane's, was published in 1806 but at some point apparently suppressed. Only two copies are known to exist - one in the Deutsch Nationalbibliothek and the one from which the present text has been transcribed, which came from a house that Jane knew and is mentioned by her in A Collection of Letters. Two Girls of Eighteen has a divided structure, involving two sisters, Charlotte and Julia, each of whom is given her own story, the one a Romance partly based on Richardson's Clarissa, the other a Gothic confection - both set in contemporary England. Jane appears to be testing in this the capabilities of such forms for expressing what she was trying to achieve. Through the character of Charlotte, who is attempting to write a novel, she deliberates at length the sort of thing that she herself might write. Her reflections on such subjects as medicine, law, the rights of women, etc take us below the glossy surface of the major novels and show us the complex web of thought that lies beneath.
When Jane Austen died, at the age of 41, she left behind her not only six novels but a large number of manuscripts, ranging from juvenile works to the novel that she was writing at the time of her final illness. The six published novels are now undisputed classics. The manuscripts, however, despite the extraordinary writing they contain and the way in which they illuminate Jane Austen's work as a novelist, are much less well known. From the brilliance of the juvenilia to the urbane modernity of Sanditon these works show Austen pushing the conventional boundaries of fiction, exploring the implications of vulgarity and violence, experimenting with different styles and tones, and practicing and refining her arts of narrative.This Broadview Edition includes Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon, and ten important early manuscript works. Historical appendices include Austen's letters on fiction; continuations written by Austen's niece and nephew of two of her early works; and Sir Walter Scott's important critical appraisal of Austen from 1816.
Penguin Readers is an ELT graded reader series for learners of English as a foreign language. With carefully adapted text, new illustrations and language learning exercises, the print edition also includes instructions to access supporting material online. Titles include popular classics, exciting contemporary fiction, and thought-provoking non-fiction, introducing language learners to bestselling authors and compelling content. The eight levels of Penguin Readers follow the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning (CEFR). Exercises at the back of each Reader help language learners to practise grammar, vocabulary, and key exam skills. Before, during and after-reading questions test readers' story comprehension and develop vocabulary. Visit the Penguin Readers website Exclusively with the print edition, readers can unlock online resources including a digital book, audio edition, lesson plans and answer keys. Emma Woodhouse is beautiful, clever and rich, and she has everything she wants. She does not want a husband for herself, but she loves match-making for her friends. But is Emma really as clever as she thinks? And what will she do when things start to go wrong?
A fresh, funny and accessible retelling of Jane Austen's classic story, with witty black and white illustrations throughout. Catherine Morland loves nothing more than reading a romantic novel, but as one of ten children she doesn't have much time for reading or for romance. When she is seventeen, her wealthy neighbours invite her to spend the winter season with them in Bath - to experience balls, the theatre and other social delights for the first time. Catherine makes friends with the passionate Isabella, and dances with a handsome man called Henry, and it seems that all her dreams are coming true. But real life doesn't always play out like a novel, and Catherine will have to overcome many obstacles before she can find her happy ending ... Steven Butler is an actor and writer from London. His books for children include The Wrong Pong series and Dennis the Menace. Steven's love of mischief made Northanger Abbey the perfect book to rewrite and he's excited to introduce Catherine Morland to a whole new raft of readers. Eglantine Ceulemans captures all of Austen's satire and wit, bringing her colourful casts to life with warm and funny black and white illustrations. Illustrated and retold editions are also available for: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park. The perfect way to discover Austen for the first time, this bright and bold collection features some of the most inspiring and famous heroines in English literature. For readers aged eight and up.
A fresh, funny and accessible retelling of Jane Austen's classic story, with witty black and white illustrations throughout. When Elinor and Marianne Dashwood's father dies, they are forced to leave their home behind and move far away to a tiny cottage. Their lives look set to change for ever, in ways neither had expected. Elinor must leave behind the man she loves, whereas Marianne falls for their charming - but entirely unsuitable - new neighbour. The sisters will need each other's support if they are to find happiness, but will they ever find the right balance of sense and sensibility? Joanna Nadin is a winner of the Fantastic Book Award, the Surrey Book Award, Blue Peter 'Book of the Month' and Radio 4 Open Book 'Book of the Year'. She has recently fallen head over heels for Austen's books and wants new readers to feel the same. Eglantine Ceulemans captures all of Austen's satire and wit, bringing her colourful casts to life with warm and funny black and white illustrations. Illustrated and retold editions are also available for: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. The perfect way to discover Austen for the first time, this bright and bold collection features some of the most inspiring and famous heroines in English literature. For readers aged eight and up.